Women & Whisky: Great King St. Fundraiser

On a recent balmy night this March, the only thing you you could hear louder than the ice cubes clinking against the glasses at SoHo, NY tiki bar hot-spot Lani Kai was the clicking of stilettos on the hardwood floor. But this was no bachelorette party. It was International Women’s Day and Great King Street whisky was sponsoring a fundraiser to benefit Bottomless Closet, a not-for-profit organization that provides work clothes, professional coaching, and financial counseling to disadvantaged women who are re-entering the workplace. Within the first hour of the event the room was quickly filled with stylish women of every imaginable demographic happily sipping on very serious whisky-based cocktails, all containing the key ingredient: Great King Street Artist’s Blend scotch whiskey* from the venerable Compass Box line. Every drink was colorful and festive and there was not a cosmo to be seen in the room.

There were several romantically-industrious men in attendance as well, some who occasionally exclaimed that they were rather surprised to see so many women attending a whisky event. I mean, they had hoped, but they never imagined…. Personally, I was not surprised at all. I have watched with interest over the past couple of years as more and more women have dipped a well-pedicured toe into the whisky pool. No longer just disinterestedly asking me to help them choose a gift for their dad or boss, women are now requesting knowledge and an introduction to a more nuanced drinking experience. What is it that the guys seem to know that we don’t? We want in!

And “in” we are. There are at least three women & whisky groups in NYC, most of which are connected to some of the top brands on the market. And there are some dynamic women on the business side as well. On any given evening you can find the dynamic & knowledgeable Stephanie Moreno (Astor’s former spirits buyer) pouring tastings for Compass Box, or the whirlwind that is Carmen Operetta regaling samplers of Bruichladdich with stories of her travels to Scotland. These ladies are serious. And so are the drinks.

By the end of the night Bottomless Closet has raised a sizable amount of money for their cause via the bar, raffles and a rather heated auction for a private 10-person Scotch tasting. The ladies mixing drinks behind the bar included Abigail Gullo of Brooklyn’s venerable Fort Defiance cafe bar, a recent finalist in the Great King Street cocktail competition in NYC. She introduced the lucky crowd with the drink that got her there, the delicious “Charlie Hustle”, a refreshing concoction made with Great King Street, Peat Monster Scotch* (also from Compass Box), and Green Chartreuse* with a hint of maple syrup, lemon juice, and fresh rosemary. This was an overwhelming favorite of a delightful evening that created many converts, satisfied many stalwarts and inspired many enthusiastic smiles over toasts with new friends.

Gentlemen, be prepared: The ladies have indeed discovered the multifaceted pleasures of Scotch. And we won’t be settling for fuzzy navels any more!

Want to re-create an impressive cocktail? Here is the recipe for the evening’s favorite drink – compliments of Ms. Gullo:

The Charlie Hustle
 From Abigail Gullo at Fort Defiance
Fresh rosemary sprigs, washed and well-dried
1 1/2 oz Great King Street scotch
1/2 oz Peat Monster Scotch
1/2 oz rosemary-infused maple syrup*
1/2 oz lemon juice
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse

Light a dry rosemary sprig, blow it out, and smoke the inside of a chilled rocks glass. Shake and strain remaining ingredients over fresh rocks into the glass. Garnish with a fresh rosemary sprig.
(To make the Rosemary infused maple syrup, brew a strong tea with 1/2 cup boiling water and 3 sprigs of rosemary. Combine with 1 cup of pure maple syrup.)

Available at Astor Wines & Spirits:
* Great King Street Artist’s Blend Scotch Whiskey, 750 ml 
* Peat Monster Scotch Whisky, 750 ml
* Green Chartreuse, 375 ml

While we’re on the subject of awesome women, check out Wine Workshop: A Celebration of Women and Wine at Astor Center.